Road Trip Ready
This past winter was not typical – stay at home, business shutdowns, online leaning and working from home. It had us longing for the endless days of summer. Which in our little corner of the world means summer road trips. Heading out on the open road with an EV is certainly a cool experience but a little pre-planning is a must. You’ve picked a destination, packed your bags, made snacks, and planned a few vehicle-friendly activities for the kids. What next?
Make Initial Plans
Plan your itinerary, including the distance you will be driving each day and stops for meals, rest or a supply reload. Second, check for chargers along your route and especially those that are conveniently located near restaurants, shopping centres and landmarks.
Be eco-conscious. Bring reusable mugs and water bottles, some reusable containers for leftover food storage, and maybe a few compostable garbage bags. And if you’re travelling with kids, be sure to select a movie or show to keep the kids entertained during charging stops.
Check your tire pressure (psi) and have a look for wear and tear before you head out on your trip. Top up the washer fluid. You can switch to a summertime formula once the warm weather hits which does a better job of dissolving proteins found in bug splatter (yuck). Keep your vehicle cool by parking in the shade and turning on the ac while charging and monitor using the Tesla app.
EV Trip Route Planning and Apps
Use apps and maps to plan your journey. You will want to have a good sense of where public charging stations are located. There are apps out there specifically designed to help you easily find all the EV charging stations along your route. A few include A Better Route Planner, Plugshare, Charge Hub or Open Charge Map. Google maps can also be searched for the type of charging station you need. But the easiest route planning is to enter the destination on the Tesla touchscreen and Navigation will show the fastest route and most convenient locations to charge.
The "Go anywhere tool" and the Tesla console itself will also note charging station locations. These will provide a route through supercharger locations and recommend charge time at each stop. This feature will also show the number of open stalls. Also check out destination charging options at hotels, restaurants and shopping centres.
A Tesla can get an estimated usable range of 300 - 500 km out of a full charge. However, that number is affected by how and where you drive. Minimizing battery use can help extend range. Some ways to do this include reducing the use of heating or air conditioning, easy-going on the accelerator and using regenerative braking or taking the slow country roads. Ideally you will drive until the battery is low as supercharging works best with a low state of charge and a warm battery.
Charging Stop Strategy
Most people are familiar with the quick gas station fill up and back on the road in 5 minutes or less. This is not the case with EVs, so be strategic with the stops. Superchargers are the best option for reducing stop time and getting back on the road. Superchargers can get your vehicle battery up to 80 percent fairly quick but going to 100 percent will take a bit longer. Many charging stations are located at shopping centers and near restaurants. So, it really does make sense to combine charging with mealtime or a supply reload. If you’re on a road trip with your own activities like a bike, cards or board games you could pull those out and have some quality time with your friend or family. Also, look for parks, museums, or other landmarks to visit.
If charging stations are available at frequent locations along your route, go as far as you possibly can before a charge. To get somewhere as fast as possible, drive on the low side of the battery with frequent stops. Battery’s charge fast when they are low and warm but tapper off quickly as the state of charge increases. If you arrive with the battery at 5%, you’re in luck, but don’t forget to Supercharge at the end of the day if you need it as a cold battery in the morning will charge much slower.
If somehow you find a route with no Superchargers, look for DC fast chargers. You may need a CHAdeMO adapter, which members can borrow from the club. And of course, don’t forget your wall charger, worst case you can always find a 120V outlet and charge it like a phone. Don’t forget your J1172 adapter for hotels or restaurants.
Happy Trip Planning!
By Laura Raimondi